Washington keen to normalise relations with Khartoum: USAID chief

USAID chief Mark Green pose with the USAID Sudan team in Khartoum on 29 August 2017 (Photo M. Green/Twitter)

August 29, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The head of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mark Green said his country is keen to normalise relations with Sudan and develop cooperation in various fields.

Green on Monday discussed with Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour ways to promote relations and cooperation between the two countries on issues of common concern.

They also discussed a number of regional and international issues as well as the ongoing dialogue between the two countries.

According to a statement released by the foreign ministry in Khartoum after the meeting, the U.S. official said his country seeks to engage seriously with Sudan to normalize relations between the two countries.

He praised Khartoum for receiving and sheltering refugees, pointing to the opening of four humanitarian corridors to deliver aid to South Sudan.

For his part, Ghandour said the five-track engagement plan between Khartoum and Washington have become a national agenda, pointing its positive outcome has contributed to promoting peace and national security in Sudan.

He pointed to the recent visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and several international envoys to Khartoum, saying they hailed the religious freedoms situation and the government efforts to achieve peace in the country.

The top diplomat further urged Washington to support his government’s efforts to promote peace and development.

In statements to the press released by the USAID on Tuesday, Green explained that they believe the lift of economic sanctions changes the dynamics to produce a real change on the grounds in Darfur. He stressed that the process is long and no change for the situation of the IDPs can be brought over night.

“Those things don’t change overnight. But I think it also creates opportunity. Again, there are other sanctions and other hurdles, but it creates the possibility of a more conventional development partnership in the future,” he said in the transcription of statements to the press on 28 August

“We’re not there. We’re a ways off. But it’s important because it begins to create the outlines of what can be done. So that’s what makes this particular phase so important,” he stressed.

Washington is involved in a five-track engagement process with the Sudan over the permanent lift of sanctions on Sudan. The process includes the fight against terrorism, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Sudan’s role in the peace process in South Sudan, Sudan’s peace and the humanitarian situation in Darfur region, the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Last January, former U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order easing the 19-year Sudan sanctions on a probationary basis. The sanctions relief was to become permanent on 12 July unless the U.S. Administration acted to stop it.

President Donald Trump, in a new executive order issued on 11 July, moved that deadline back by three months, while keeping the temporary sanctions relief in place, citing the need to take more time to assess the robust process.